Summary: Part 3 of a 6 part series on the 12 Steps as a Spiritual Discipline
(Slide 1)30 years ago this month, I had my first car wreck. With my mom’s car. It was the first Friday of January 1976 after Christmas vacation and I was coming home from basketball practice (I was manager of the team) even through school was cancelled because of the weather.
I was not going too fast (honest) on the state highway in front of the housing plat that I lived in when I hit my brakes to slow down to make a turn and ended up panicking because I locked my wheels up on a downhill slope in the road. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind and the presence of God to avoid hitting the car in front me, which happened to be my neighbor in his beautiful jacked-up 1967 Chevelle.
I ended up in the ditch and took out a speed limit sign with my mom’s car and stopped in a huge snowdrift in front of the Ford dealer. Well, I called for a sheriff or OHP and soon was sitting in the passenger seat of the sheriff’s car while he filled out his report.
While sitting there (and he had tried to console me by telling me that I was only one of 12 accidents that day) I somewhere in my thinking knew that I would have to get home. How was that going to happen? Who would I call? What would I say to my parents about what I had done? How would I say it? What kind of a spin would I put on it? But, my dad would take care of that issue for me by showing up at the scene.
I was sitting in the sheriff’s cruiser when I looked out my window and saw my dad standing there. He and mom had been at the grocery store next to the car dealer where I had ended up. And as they left the parking lot, mom spotted the car in the ditch and then me in the cruiser.
It was a long ride home. Probably it was all of 5 to 7 minutes and a mile and a half in distance. But it was a long ride home. The only thing that dad said to me was ‘You were probably going faster that what you said you were.’
There was no way that I could hide what I had done. My parents would have found out sooner or later. Telling the truth was the right thing to do as hard as it was.
As I wrote this part of the sermon, I thought to myself, ‘Did I ever apologize to mom and dad, but especially mom for totaling her car?’ So I called her to ask her.
She said, ‘I don’t remember if you did or not, I think that you did, and we knew that you were sorry for what had happened.’ But, I went ahead and apologized for the accident anyway.
One of the most difficult things to do in life is to apologize for something that you said or did that was wrong. One of the big reasons for doing so is fear. There is a fear of retribution. There is a fear of rejection. There is a fear of legal consequences in some situations. There is a fear of embarrassment. (Slide 2)
But confession is a vital step toward God’s way of living as Step 5 points out: We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Why is confession important? Why is it necessary? Why should I tell another person about my failures and defects?
Here are three very good reasons (Slide 3): First and most important, the Bible says to do this. We read in Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” in Galatians 6:2 we are challenged to, “Carry each other’s burdens…” and in James 5:16 we read, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other…”
The New Testament has a great deal to say to us about the importance of supporting one another and helping one another to become and stay spiritually honest and open with the Lord, one another, and ourselves. And, while each of us has to make the personal choice to accept Christ and live that commitment out to the best of our ability with the Holy Spirit’s help or not, I cannot recall any place in the Bible where we are left alone to live out our faith. Much of Paul’s writing in the middle of the New Testament includes advice and direction on living in the community of faith.
Confession, appropriate confession, is a key ingredient in the growth of not just our own personal faith, but that of our corporate faith as well. I remember watching a TV show on the Navy’s Blue Angels a few years ago. (Slide 4) The cameras followed them to the debriefing room as they talked about their recent performance. Almost to a man, they began their assessment, ‘I am happy to be here today’ and something about the privilege of flying for the group.